Twilight Serenade | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Twilight Serenade 

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Twilight Serenade, Red Hen Productions. It's refreshing to see a grown-up play, featuring gray-haired actors, address with humor a topic as sobering as the death of a loved one. Twilight Serenade, written by John Green and directed by Ted Hoerl, focuses on family members who withdraw after the death of their husband-father-brother David (John Gawlik). When daughter Molly runs away to sit on a mountaintop, her husband, Tom, becomes caretaker not just of his self-centered baby boomer wife but also of David's widow and sister, spirited women in their 70s. Having painfully prolonged David's life artificially, the family is wracked by guilt and unspoken recriminations. It falls to sensitive, soap-opera-handsome Tom to gently coax them back together.

And it falls to the cast's Golden Girls to deliver the two performances that make the evening worthwhile. Mary Seibel as crusty Aunt Virgie gets the biggest laughs. Widow Ruby, who might seem hapless in other hands, is played with solicitous stubbornness by Rachel Stephens, who has the singular ability to make an audience feel exactly the way she wants them to.

Disappointingly, however, the only connection to David that's fully communicated is Ruby's: the most moving scenes are those between elderly Ruby and young, dark-haired David--the starry-eyed gaze, the flirtatious gestures, they're all there. But David's relationships with the other characters are never really established, giving the play a surprisingly flat emotional texture.

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